Author, CEO & Founder

Learn More >>

Stuck On The First Paragraph? Three (Uncommon) Ways to Bust Out Your Best–Even At Your Worst.

In: Creative Writing for the Internet

Sometimes, you stare at the screen.

And you stare at the screen. And then you go get a bagel. And then you stare at the screen. *whips out nail file* *stares at cuticles* *stares at screen* *stares at cuticles* *wonders how many dead skin cells fall into keyboard during average workday*

And then you tell yourself you've had enough. You're going to get down to business. You make a stern face. You furrow your eyebrows. You turn off Spotify, and you get into concentration mode. You look fondly at the cursor. You look angrily at the cursor. You start cursing at the cursor. You take a bite of bagel and see who's on Twitter. You nonchalantly stalk your ex. He thinks he's soooo great. Yeah, well, you might be Vice President of the awesomest company in the world, but…NICE COMBOVER! *SNARK SNARK SNARK*  Too bad you're losing your hair!  *SNARK SNARK SNARK* Too bad you lost me! *SNARK SNARK SNARK*


…maybe he didn't love me because I'm too fat? *WEEPS INTO PILLOW*


Before you know it, it's twelve noon and you're now alternating between licking the tub of cream cheese and watching Dr. Phil reruns…without getting a single word onto the page.

When you find yourself in the depths of writing despair, have no fear – there are things. 

Ash's Top Three Things To Do When You're Experiencing Such Bad Writer's Block You Can't Even Remember How to Spell “Oink.”

(Because everyone knows how to spell oink. Obviously.)

  1. Think of it like a movie trailer.
    This is, by far, one of my favorites. Anytime I'm writing for a client and it's just not comin' to me–so help my soul–I'll imagine what their personal movie trailer might look like. Movie trailers are great for getting a start on your writing because first off, we can all imagine what a movie trailer is like (so you know what I'm saying here) and second, because people who make movie trailers are great at eliciting insta-emotion within a really short time frame. They also tell an entire story within a really short time frame. And it's really good when you're looking to find that overall HOOK – what's the one thing/phrase/sentence/headline/concept/paragraph that's going to reel your readers in? Here's a sample of some copy I wrote this way – which was actually ideal, since this is teaser copy for a novel.
  2. With popular topics/businesses/industries that you have no IDEA what you could say to make this sound different than everything else out there, really think to yourself: What would this have to say for ME to want it?
    While you may not be an exact match for a target audience, one thing you do have in common is the fact that you're both probably sick and tired of hearing the same stuffy jargon, the same clichĂ©s, the same tired message. So…what would the words have to say to make YOU do a double take? Fresh is always a good approach.
     Here's a sample of copy I recently wrote for a real estate agent–one of the most common industries there is.
  3. Help them envision the possibilities–how they'll use it, where they'll put it, how it'll make them feel every single day, and how much better life will be with it–particularly if you're selling something that isn't so much a need, but more a want–and, by extension, optional in the minds of your buyers.
    Unfortunately, most things in life are wants–not needs. But in order to get buyers, they've got to feel like they need it. So how do you go about making them feel this way? Most experts will tell you to focus on the pain points, but sometimes, it's nicer (and just as effective) to focus on the pleasure points. How sweet life will be with my new _________. I recently wrote copy for a wrought iron outdoor accessories designer (read: big, stately gates, trellises, mirrors, wall-hangings), and this was certainly the case of a want–not a need. 
    Take a look at what I did with this copy–specifically paying attention to “Maybe You Have” section, helping them to see the possibilities of how on earth they could ever see themselves with wrought iron garden accessories. Not probably something they were shopping for–but something they may end up wanting. (And buying.)

And, of course, if none of those work… 

…there's always the tried and true method of changing your environment which, as typical as that sounds, is actually really good advice. I end up writing my best stuff in random hotel rooms – ALWAYS. 

Another favorite? Consider some unexpected clashes of words + concepts. Music artists Tegan and Sara are great at doing this with their lyrics: 

Look me in the eye and tell me you don't find me attractive

Look me in the heart tell me you won't go

Look me in the heart is a brilliant line.
And it's unexpected.
And it evokes an electrifying image.
So I challenge you – what can you say to hit the reader in the face with a crowbar?
Writing doesn't always come easy. You've got to work at it. You've got to play. Substitute. Look up synonyms. Add. Erase. Rearrange. And most importantly, THINK.
Because at the end of the day, those times you find yourself stressing out and staring at the screen?
Are for amateurs who don't yet know that staring at the screen…
…is all part of the process. 
Mar 4


How to Stop Writing With a Stick Up Your Ass

Mar 4, 2016

One of the things I get asked about forty hundred times a day (besides whether or not I know there’s a hair sprouting from my chin) is this: Where’s the line between personality and unprofessional? Because apparently I’m known for walking the line between mental inspiration and mental institution—as every writer worth their weight should. […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet


Jan 11


How to Sell Anything In One Paragraph Or Less

Jan 11, 2013

What if I told you I could sell anything in one paragraph or less? (Stop glancing skeptically at the screen. I can see up your nose.) You know what kind of paragraph I’m talking about–the sorely neglected, overlooked and undervalued product description. *cue tambourine and this song* Product descriptions have the power to make or […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet


Feb 15


25 Words That Will Make You Seem Bland, Useless, Stale, Dime-a-Dozen, Washed-Up and Otherwise Uninteresting, Unimportant and Not Worth Paying Attention To

Feb 15, 2013

If you want to stand out, feel fresh, appear interesting and get noticed… …then you’ve got to use language that stands out, feels fresh, is interesting and gets noticed. This is common sense, but of course, it’s easier said than done. It’s tempting to use the first words that come to your mind, but usually? Those […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet


Jan 30


Why Screaming Won’t Get You Heard.

Jan 30, 2014

You know when you’re in a group of people… …and you start telling a story, and that one jerkoff starts talking over you, hollering at the waitress mid-sentence, or answering the phone, or by turning to say something to somebody else, and then all of the sudden you don’t really know if you’re suppose to […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet


Jun 7


A Dead Simple Way to Write a Creative Bio (Without Crying) (Or Wall Punching) (Awkward, You Guys)

Jun 7, 2016

Most people dread introducing themselves in general, but ask someone to introduce themselves in writing, and you’ve just added another unwelcome layer of pressure: Now you’ve got to WRITE WELL ON TOP OF IT. And, you know, say witty things. That you’re committing to paper. While being judged by everyone who reads it. Because isn’t […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet


Jun 28


How to Be Interesting As Hell On Paper

Jun 28, 2016

Agency. It was one of the first things my book editor said to me. “These parts need more agency.” And I obviously said: Like the CIA? And she said: Shoot me. And I said: Is that a CIA joke? So while furiously drinking wine and researching this new writing foe—agency—I had been delighted to discover […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet


Nov 16


The Three-Word Trick for Giving Your Content an Insta-Boner (Ooohhh, She Said The B Word!)

Nov 16, 2018

By “insta-boner,” of course I mean something much more polite, like “oomph.” But who uses the word “oomph” these days? It’s completely out of the question. So, I thought I’d go with boner. There we have it, I’ve officially topped myself in the vulgar department. But, hey, this is how you write for the Internet: you […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet


May 31


Why Your Writing Sucks.

May 31, 2013

There’s a lot of horse shit going around the internet these days about “writing from the heart” and eliciting emotion in your readers/audience/customers/landlords. Okay, so not landlords. And you get it. You know it’s important. Because nobody wants to buy from a faceless mime. But what you don’t know is how to actually do it. […]

In: Creative Writing for the Internet


I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

Enter your email address and I’ll send you my advice column every week sharing everything I’ve learned—and so much more.

But no serial killers. I promise I won’t send those.

Privacy Policy Info Here